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Hurd-Wooldridge

Hurd-Wooldridge John “Jimmy” Hurd and Joel Wooldridge began their formidable partnership more than a decade ago as juniors. Since that time they've compiled an amazing resumé for a pair of players barely north of 30. Their trophy case includes gold medals from two World Youth Team Championships as well as a combined 10 NABC+ victories. And for those who have been in a coma for the past two months, they just finished an astonishing run as members of the youthful USA2 squad to claim the silver medal at the Bermuda Bowl in Veldhoven. Their success isn't limited to the confines of their partnership, either. Hurd won the Fishbein Trophy for accumulating the most masterpoints—with multiple partners—during the Summer NABC in 2009. Not to be outdone, Wooldridge claimed the Mott-Smith trophy in Louisville this year for a similar accomplishment. But UFR is back with a vengeance to prove, once again, that even the best make mistakes! Take this hand from the pair's semifinal match-up against USA1 in the Bermuda Bowl.

Stansby
109743
9
974
AJ102
Hurd
QJ82
8764
J8
K43
Martel
AK5
J52
652
9875
Wooldridge
6
AKQ103
AKQ103
Q6
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
5
P
6
P
P
P
D
21
6 South
NS: 0 EW: 0


Two Clubs
Many players don't like to open 2 with two-suited hands. With game practically in hand, we believe this hand is simply too strong to open 1. Furthermore, South plans to show his red suits and rebid 3 after both openers (e.g., 1 … 3 vs. 2 … 2 … 3), so the 1-level opening won't save any bidding room compared to 2.

Two Diamonds
Waiting. No other choice.

Two Hearts
Kokish Relay .’ This convention shows either real hearts or a very strong, balanced hand (typically 24+ HCP). Responder is forced to bid 2 after which opener either bids 2NT to show the super-strong notrump or makes some other natural bid.

Two Spades
Forced.

Three Diamonds
Natural, showing hearts and diamonds.

Three Hearts
This could be either a simple preference with as little as a doubleton heart, or a hand too strong to bid 4. A jump to 4 would show the same hand as the standard 2-2; 2-4 auction — real heart support but no controls. Is there an effective way to differentiate between the “good” 3 and the “bad” 3?

Four Diamonds
This is where it starts to get interesting. The usual objective after opening 2 should be to pattern out and reach the right game or slam. The problem with 4 is that it leaves no room for slam investigation below 4. Is there an obligation to pattern out? If a diamond slam were in the picture, would partner have raised diamonds, or possibly have cue-bid 4? How good does partner need to be to come again over 4?

Five Hearts
North's choice is affected by what partner needs for the 4 call. Assuming 4 is slam-going, how good is North's hand? Are those secondary black cards pulling any weight? Would 5 guarantee the ace opposite a 2-suiter, or is 2nd-round control good enough? Is it clear whether a cue-bid supports hearts at this point? Does 3 followed by 4 show values (since we didn't jump to 4), or could it still be a simple preference? It seems like there are three possible interpretations for 5:

  1. General slam try
  2. Asking for good trumps
  3. Asking for outside controls


With that in mind we turn to...

Six Hearts
If North is asking for good trumps, South certainly has them. But is that the clearest interpretation? If North had first-round control in one of the black suits then South should expect a cue-bid to help pinpoint a potential weakness. Would North make a general slam try with neither AKQ of trumps nor a black control? How should North bid holding Axxx Jxx xxx Kxx? Should South shrug his shoulders, say he's already shown his hand, and pass?

This deal presented Hurd-Wooldridge with the familiar UFR triad of little bidding room, nebulous agreements, and multiple judgment calls. Undoubtedly the super-scientists have methods to avoid slam, but how might these two have succeeded at the table?

We pulled the tape, now we invite you to make the call.

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